7 Questions You Should Ask Before Choosing a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center
Each year in the United States, millions of people enter drug rehab programs. For many, however, this isn’t the first time around the block. Moreover, they have already been to rehab multiple times and relapsed after discharge. In fact, an estimated 10% have been to rehab at least five times before.
Unfortunately, not all addiction treatment centers are created equal. Some still rely on punitive, old-school tactics that do not treat the whole of the condition or co-occurring mental health issues such as depression.
In summary, a treatment program should be customized to the individual and multi-faceted, and include a wide range of approaches such as therapy, counseling, and group support.
To help individuals and their families make the right choices as they seek substance abuse treatment for themselves or their loved one, we have compiled the following list of seven essential questions that should be asked of the treatment facility before a decision is made.
What results does the program expect from rehab?
Different plans and programs gauge outcomes differently. For example, some consider a person who continues to attend group meetings or take prescribed medication (i.e., methadone) successful. Other programs acknowledge completion of a 30-day program a success.
Others go farther by monitoring individuals who return home and remain sober long-term and show improvement in life factors such as family relationships, employment, or education.
You must decide what results will be acceptable, and any reputable rehab program should be able to explain to you exactly how they measure success and what the success rate is.
Is the program short- or long-term?
The most common length of a drug rehab program is 28-30 days, but this may not offer people the time they need to remain sober long-term after discharge. For most, it is not just a matter of getting clean – they need to develop coping skills to stay strong if they are exposed to triggers. For this reason, many people remain in rehab much longer – typically up to 90 days.
Does the program use medication-assisted treatment?
Many addiction treatment programs offer drug substitutions for opioid dependency in the form of methadone, buprenorphine, or Suboxone. The objective of this program is not to achieve complete sobriety in the short-term, but instead, to reduce harm by offering a less-dangerous alternative to say, heroin.
However, many also consider this approach to be trading one addiction for another. Moreover, if your goal is complete sobriety, you should opt for a program that does not promote other drugs as treatment, or gauge the use of those drugs as “success.”
Does the program employ a method of managing physical cravings for substances, without relying on medication to suppress those cravings?
When a person is in recovery, he or she will probably struggle every day with cravings. Some programs do not have a direct approach to mitigating these desires, and rather, they employ the use of prescriptions drug to suppress cravings chemically.
Moreover, cravings should also be addressed through therapy, in which the person learns how to identify triggers and develops skills that enable him or her to cope with the desire to use again. Also, a program should use detox and nutritional techniques that can help alleviate cravings.
Does the program include a nutritional plan?
Many people who enter addiction treatment programs come in a poor state of health, including malnutrition. For this reason and many others, a program should include nutritional support to reverse the nutritional deficiencies that can cause insomnia, depression, a lack of energy, and other issues that can hinder the recovery process.
For example, a literature review from 2007, reported by Kathleen Kerr, M.D., revealed that that programs that included nutritional support had a success rate of 60%-80%, compared to those without that support which had a success rate of 17%-50%.
Does the program teach clients life skills to maintain a sober life?
People may feel confident when they leave a program, but they are going to be in for significant challenges, stress, and triggers that tempt him or her to use substances again back in the real world. Sometimes it’s a matter of visiting old friends or haunts, while other times it’s a stressful event such as family conflict that instigates a relapse.
The person in recovery must have the skills to navigate these influences successfully, and it should be the objective of a rehab program to ensure that this happens. Otherwise, gains made during rehab may be lost when the person must return to their lives and face their demons head-on.
Which model does the rehab program use to approach addiction – as a disease, or as a moral failing? Or s something in between? Is it evidence-based?
Many mental health professionals now believe that addiction is best treated as a disease, whether or not it is one. Like a disease, therefore, results are best achieved through the use of multiple techniques and treatments. For addiction, these include psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and holistic approaches such as nutrition, yoga, and music therapy.
Moreover, beware of any program that still contends that addiction is a moral failing and does not embrace the complex nature of why people engage in substance abuse. It will likely fall far short of a customized, comprehensive, evidence-based program is that research has repeatedly shown to be effective.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
Please call us today at +888-380-0342 for a free consultation.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology